New LVEDC Study Finds Lehigh Valley is Great Place for Millennials to Work and Live
By Colin McEvoy on August 6, 2015
The Lehigh Valley is a great place for millennials to work and live. But don’t take our word for it: the data speaks for itself.
While people tend to associate the millennial generation with places like New York City or San Francisco, studies have shown they have been largely priced out of those large U.S. cities, a particular challenge for a group also known as the “recession generation.”
But a new study by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) finds the Lehigh Valley is much more affordable for millennials, and that the region has a high population of well-educated citizens between ages 18 and 34.
“The days of ‘there’s nothing to do here’ have ended,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President and CEO. “The Lehigh Valley has evolved tremendously in the last decade. For a long time, the notion was that we were a great place to be when you start raising a family but not a place to be in your twenties. This study confirms that is no longer the case. The Lehigh Valley is a much more affordable alternative for millennials than the larger cities, as well as many other regions our size.”
The analysis considered 134 regions across the country with a population range between 200,000 and 1 million people.
Within those regions, the study considered three factors (as identified in the chart above): the affordability of housing, the percentage of population ages 18-34 with at least a bachelor’s degree, and the amount of people within that population that are employed.
According to the analysis, the Lehigh Valley fares well in all three categories. Although some other regions outperform the Lehigh Valley in individual categories, the Lehigh Valley ranks 34 out of 134 when all three categories are factored together.
A total of 23.68 percent of the Lehigh Valley’s population falls between ages 18 and 34, which is higher than 108 of the 134 regions in the study. Within the Lehigh Valley’s 18-34 population, 67.19 percent are employed, which is higher than 88 of the other regions.
The study also found the Lehigh Valley outperformed 66 regions in terms of affordability. That was determined by comparing the average earnings of the region’s millennials with the average annual cost of a mortgage on a house, multiplied by three to account for other cost of living expenses.
The average millennial in the Lehigh Valley earns $12,784 annually more than it costs to live here. By comparison, millennials in more than a dozen regions in the study make less than it costs to live there.
For example, in Fort Collins, Colo., the average millennial makes $5,006 less than the annual cost of living in a house. In Santa Cruz, Calif., they make $58,107 less.
Few regions do as well in all three combined categories from the study as the Lehigh Valley. For example, in Ann Arbor, Mich., 35 percent of the 18-34 population has a bachelor’s degree, the third-highest in the study. But a much lower percentage of that population is employed (61.21 percent) than compared to the Lehigh Valley.
Conversely, Flint, Mich., is more affordable for millennials ($21,246 annual surplus) than the Lehigh Valley, but has a lower percentage of 18-34 population (13.89 percent), and fewer within that population has at least a bachelor’s degree (58.28 percent).
The study was conducted by John Lamirand, LVEDC’s research specialist, and research intern Owen Evans. Home values considered by the study are sourced from Zillow, based on January to April 2015 monthly median values. Earnings estimations are based on 2013 median earnings for workers ages 18-34 years from the U.S. Census Bureau, assuming an escalation of 2 percent per year.
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